Eleven Reasons Tarot Readings Go Wrong And How To Get Them Right
According to the cards, you should have gotten that job, he would have called, and that obnoxious coworker kept her mouth shut. Well, that turned out wrong. Why didn’t your cards give you a heads-up? And what can you do to make sure your readings are more accurate? I’ll share eleven ways tarot readings can go wrong and how to get them right. Illustrated with real-life examples of when tarot readings went wrong, I’ll share what ‘veI learned so you can get your readings right.
At the end I’ll share two free downloadable worksheets for you to record your readings so you can document when you’re right and learn from when you’re wrong.
This material was first presented for the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup on June 5, 2021. Please join us for future meetings!
Three Types of tarot readings
What do I mean by wrong tarot readings? As a general rule, tarot readings clearly describe the situation you ask about, while providing enlightening insight and actionable advice. Sometimes details may be wrong, but the overall experience is relevant, inspiring, and motivating. But once in a while a reading you receive from someone else, or do for yourself, fails. On the one hand, it might not be helpful. But on the other hand, it might steer you wrong with incorrect information and bad advice. Ouch! To understand this better, let’s look at the three types of tarot readings and what they can do for you.
There are roughly three main types of reading styles: predictive, psychological, and spiritual. Predictive readings look into the future. They focus on the yet-unknown facts of the situation and its potential outcomes. A psychological or counseling style is used to gain insight, understanding, and advice. These consultations fine tune the why of the asked-about situation and recommend ways to approach or respond to it. Spiritual development sessions facilitate personal and spiritual growth. Rather than looking at a specific situation, they explore you and your patterns and cycles. These sessions place a given situation into a big picture context so you can rise above the situation.
Any of these types of readings can fall anywhere on the right-to-wrong scale. However, it’s primarily predictive readings that produce verifiably correct – or not – information, or that can forecast outcomes that either happen or don’t. The other styles of reading don’t need to hit the mark factually. Rather, the experience they provide is gauged by how helpful and relevant they are. Because of this, to explore when tarot readings are wrong, I’ll concentrate on predictive readings for this article.
Examples of the Three Styles of Tarot Readings
A student of mine became interested in divination after having a reading with someone who told him that he would be offered a job in September from a woman whose name began with “J”. A job offer signed by a Jennifer subsequently showed up in that month, spurring a move to another state. That’s a predictive reading (and in this example, a psychic reading, not tarot). In contrast, a psychological style reading might have advised him to approach the situation by expanding his job search out of state. Alternately, a personal growth reading could have explored the pros and cons of staying put versus taking a chance with something different, even diving into why he might be drawn to one or the other.
All readers ultimately use all styles to various degrees, although any given reader has a go-to style that dominates their sessions.
Why are predictive Tarot readings sometimes wrong?
Having read the cards for thirty years, I’ve had my share of tarot readings go wrong. Don’t get me wrong — I am a highly accurate and detailed reader. But when you take the risk of offering specifics that can be verified, you sometimes lose a hand or two. My loss is your gain! Here are eleven reasons your tarot readings are wrong and what to do about it.
1. You’re Wrong, Plain and Simple
Let’s just get this one out of the way up front. Sometimes a reading is wrong because it was a bad reading. Chalk it up to experience and try a different reader. Or if you’re reading for yourself, get more practice, try a different deck or a more familiar deck, or work on developing better questions. Keep a tarot journal to record all your readings and interpretations. Reviewing them periodically to determine what was right and what you missed is a great way to learn from your mistakes so you can get more readings right.
2. You didn’t ask
I had been reading for a client for years. We explored her career, discussed her kids, asked about her husband’s career, and even looked at how she and her husband could improve their relationship. We never asked if there was anything wrong with her relationship. She simply observed what seemed to be normal ups and downs. And then, after years of seeing me, she contacted me with news. Big news. Her husband had been cheating on her for two years. I was astonished at the revelation. Horrified for her. Embarrassed for myself. And ultimately perplexed as to why it had never come up in any of our readings.
Tarot is great for teasing out the real reason behind problems. Tarot excels at uncovering hidden information. And tarot doesn’t pull its punches. At least, not usually. So why did the cards keep this a secret? A number of factors play into this example. But primarily I think it was because we never asked. Although it wasn’t our usual topic, there were times when we explored ways to make the her relationship with him better. And she reported, prior to learning the big news, that her relationship with him had indeed improved. Maybe we could have confronted the situation earlier if we had asked more probing questions.
For example, the question, “How can I improve this relationship?”, elicits advice. And this advice may or may not address currently unknown problems. If you need to know the truth, you could follow up with, “What is the likely outcome if I leave it alone?” and “What is the likely outcome if I put my best effort into improving it?”
3. You’re consciously or unconsciously not ready to hear the answer
I have several clients who follow celebrities or political figures. Sometimes at the end of their readings, these querents use their last few minutes to ask about favorite stars. Public figures are generally considered fair game and exempt from the third party reading restrictions (more on tarot ethics). One of my fangirl clients also had a bad habit of saying “no bad cards” when she cut the deck.
One day she asked about an actor who had been lost at sea. She performed her “no bad cards” ritual as she cut. One of the cards that came up was the Hanged Man. The answer was clear to me. This card appears in T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland as the “Drowned Phoenician Sailor.” John Michael Greer assigns the qabalistic path of this card, the Path of Mem, to the mythological principle of the “drowned giant.” The card’s attribution is water. Combined with the image of a man upside down, the idea of someone sinking in water is unavoidable. But when I opened my mouth to say it, nothing came out. Why? She couldn’t hear it. I stared silently at the card for a while and finally said, it looks like he went back down. That felt right.
I Googled the news story a few days later. He drowned. Interestingly, my feeling that he went back down continued strongly. I think he did start to surface then intentionally descended again. I don’t know why.
How can you turn this kind of wrong tarot reading right? If you want to know the truth, be open to receiving the truth. More to the point, if you want accurate tarot readings, don’t ask a question you don’t honestly want to know the answer to.
4. You’re looking for reassurance
Along the same lines, many clients solely want the tarot to reassure them or tell them that everything will work out. And in the big picture, it almost always does, so usually the cards can come up with something optimistic to talk about. But you’re kneecapping your readings if you don’t allow the truth to come out.
My suggestion? If you want reassurance, don’t ask predictive questions. A predictive question asked with the expectation of reassurance will likely produce an inaccurate reading. Instead, ask questions with a positive spin: What’s the best that will come of this? What will stay the same through these changes? Or ask empowering questions: What energy do I need to bring to this situation? What actions can I take to bring about my desired outcome?
Being reassured, finding peace, or gaining confidence about a situation are all legitimate reasons to get a reading. But if this is the goal of the reading, the accuracy will be compromised.
5. You’re imposing your beliefs on the cards
Often there are a variety of interpretations for any given combination of cards. A well-structured reading process will narrow it down to a very specific and accurate answer. But if during that refining process you dismiss something as impossible, you may have dismissed the truth of the situation.
A client asked about a project she was going to be involved in and I told her it would be cancelled because the company didn’t have enough money. The client said it was impossible because they already had their full financing in place. I found out later that the project was indeed cancelled because of a completely unforeseeable need to get extra insurance, which they hadn’t budgeted for.
If I had moved to a different interpretation because of what the client said, the reading would have been wrong. When clients respond in this way, I usually say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know then. I’m just telling you what the cards say.”
6. You didn’t take action or changed your course of action
A friend related to me that a client she had read for complained to her that nothing came out as predicted. My friend had read for this person regarding a business she was starting. Everything looked great! The cards pointed to success. However, thinking nothing could go wrong, the client changed what she was doing instead of continuing along the established path, and as a result everything crumbled.
7. The time line was off
Some readers read close and some read far. I tend to read far. I did a reading for a friend in the early 90s. He asked about work. I told him he would receive three job offers (Three of Wands). He called a couple of weeks later and reported that none of his current prospects came through. I felt bad about my failure.
Fast forward to the 20-teens, about 20-25 years later. I hadn’t seen him in that much time nor had we kept in touch other than limited social media. As we sat over dinner, he unfolded the story of his life from the past couple of decades. He hopped from job to job as a professor, met his wife and got married, all the while trying to find his stability. The story culminated with him being offered tenure positions at three different colleges in three different states. He described himself looking out at these options across the country, a choice that would determine the rest of their life for him and his wife. I could clearly feel the Three of Wands imagery as he described his situation.
Moral: give your reading enough time to unfold. Hopefully it’s not 25 years. And if you’re the reader, remember to include timing parameters in the question! For instance, specify “What do my job prospects look like over the next thirty days?” rather than just asking if you’ll get a job.
8. Your energy is off
My teacher taught me to record the moon phase, the weather, and my personal energy when I journaled my readings. Then I could analyze that info to determine if I tended to be especially right or especially wrong due to such factors. I have noticed that rainy or snowy days tend to make my readings much more quiet and introspective. Rainy day readings with clients tend to be mellower and more conversational. For me, the style of the reading changes, but I don’t believe the accuracy is undermined.
9. You didn’t connect with Spirit
Whether guides, angels, your inner teacher, your higher self, or the Divine, connecting with something greater than you provides insight and deep truth. Letting go of your limited perspective and achieving a cosmic point of view helps you see the truth clearly. The experience of deep compassion gained from connecting to Spirit also helps ease the way into difficult honesty.
10. The tarot wants something different for you
I had a long-term client who saw me every week or so to get a heads-up for her fast-paced, often changing job. She often asked about relationships as well. The job readings were always accurate. But the relationship readings always showed her long-distance love interest in a positive light. It was very frustrating for me as a reader because my personal advice to her would have been to give up already on some guy who wasn’t taking it seriously. But time after time we got great cards for the relationship. Why? I’m not sure. But having the same experience with other male and female clients over the years, I have some theories.
One, maybe that is what they need right now. Some people just don’t have time for a real relationship and a part-time one that dangles the promise of something in the future is just the right fit. Two, one or both partners have something they need to work out psychologically or karmically before being able to advance to a more traditional relationship – even though it doesn’t seem ideal, the current situation must be worked through and resolved to allow better opportunities to come forward. Or three, the cards are trying to describe what you should be getting from a relationship. If your relationship isn’t Two of Cups, Ten of Cups, Lovers, and Ten of Pentacles, maybe you should back off and wait for something that actually looks as good as the cards predict.
11. The tarot wants you to pursue your wild and crazy goals no matter what anyone says
I’ve had a lot of clients ask about pet projects. One in particular was putting a lot of effort and money into something and was not seeing the expected results. I personally didn’t think she was wise to continue this course, and in fact other readers she saw told her as much. But when she came to me, we always asked clear questions and pulled very positive cards. Why? Who knows. My suspicion is that she needed the goal setting, the creative imagination, the fidgety details, and the experience of seeing this project through to a conclusion, for better or worse. She would spend her money somewhere, and spending it on this gave her a sense of purpose.
If the cards say “why not?” it’s pretty safe to go for it.
Turning Wrong Tarot Readings into “Right On!” Tarot Readings
So, what do you do about it? If you’d like to be more accurate in your tarot readings, the best practice is to record your readings. Review your recorded readings periodically and note what actually happened. How close were you to predicting the outcome? Consider what factors may have played into your being more accurate than usual or less. And don’t be afraid to make predictions. It’s one of the coolest perks of being a tarot reader! When you practice making predictions with the tarot, you become empowered not simply to know the future, but to prepare for it.